The long-promised launch for my first (published) picture book, "...and Nobody Noticed the Mouse" took place at my local, and highly regarded, Children's Bookshop, in Muswell Hill, North London, last Tuesday.

The last book launch I had was at the turn of the century, and a very different affair. This was for my Young Adult novel: "For Maritsa with Love". Set in Paris in the 80s, it's the story of a Romanian gypsy girl who's a professional beggar on the Metro, and Simon & Schuster thought it was going to be a best seller, so they pulled out all the stops. The launch happened in a very grand central London hotel, and the wines came from a prestigious French wine merchant who sent along an expert to introduce them. The nibbles were far more than that, and prepared by a chef. There were even small chocolates with the letter 'M' embossed on them. My lovely David was there with me, thoroughly enjoying the whole thing. And me? I was both elated, gobsmacked and terrified.

This time was very different. The wines were supermarket, and so were the nibbles, which were mostly crisps (my current publisher does not have Simon & Schuster's budget). We put sugar mice on the table, which made it look festive and relevant. Local friends and neighbours (with their children) turned up, and also, touchingly, my publicist from that previous launch, who is a local man. Again I was terrified, but this time, terrified of doing the whole thing alone, without the guy who'd meant so much to me. I was pleased to get the publicity for the book, and my publisher's approval, but elation was absent. My daughter, son and grandchildren were all there rooting for me, but it wasn't the same, and my inner turmoil produced physical symptoms which stress so often does, and which lasted for the rest of the week. The book shop owner, who is also a personal friend, was fantastic, though, and I believe she sold lots of books that evening.

"For Maritsa with Love" went out of print within less than two years. I'm hoping my 'mouse' will have greater longevity, but who knows? I want to re-issue 'Maritsa' as an ebook, but I'm holding back, because I feel it's an important work, and there has been a tiny breath of film interest. I'm also disenchanted, at present, with the ebook scene, because I sell very little (none at all so far in October), and these are all traditionally published books, with impressive cover images. While I still had David, we often spoke of self-publishing some of my work which never made it publishing-wise, but without his expertise, and with the knowledge that my eleven professionally edited and well presented children's books don't seem to be getting anywhere, I'm reluctant to even attempt to do this.


JO said…
Go for it - yes, it's tough, but you believe in the narrative, and that's the best possible reason to ebook it! (I've never heard of ebooking behing a problem if there's film interest, but maybe there's someone knows better than I on that score.)
Lydia Bennet said…
good luck with your Mouse book! why not ebook all your previous published books? give them a chance to get out there. you never know if one will take off. if you are self-pubbing them as ebooks I don't see why that should harm any film rights, but that should be easily checkable.
I can understand your stress, Enid, after all you've been through. I've had a quick look through your books on Amazon and I honestly can't see why they aren't selling in thousands, especially the Young Adult titles which seem to be so 'of the moment'. So I can only assume it's some problem of 'discoverability'. People aren't finding them and I have no idea why.You may in some ways be a victim of your own splendid versatility. I started to wonder if your books - especially YA - were in the right categories - if your keywords were right. Things change, on Kindle in particular, all the time and they have introduced a whole lot of new categories which can help to give your books a push in the right direction. Easy to tweak, or to get a young family member to do it for you. They might find it really interesting to do. The main thing is that you can't focus on everything at once, especially at this time. But - given that you've just had such a lovely picture book published in the traditional way - and given the current popularity of YA as a genre, might it not be possible to focus on TWO projects - (a) promoting Nobody Noticed The Mouse with your publisher and (b) engaging fully with Maritsa and what to do with it? Then, if one or both of these takes off in a big way, the knock-on effect on all the other work you have out there will be substantial, (and because the books are 'out there' will take care of itself for a while! ) Meanwhile, I'm sure Maritsa IS an important work but it's hard to get traditional publishers to take notice of something that has already been published in the traditional way. (They don't mind so much if something has been self published as an eBook, because you can just negotiate the rights yourself.)I don't think publishing in eBook form affects any other rights, so long as you have a full written rights reversion from Simon and Schuster. Quite the reverse, really. I hear that film makers trawl Kindle looking for likely books. And it seems so relevant as a story and subject matter right now that it's almost as though you should seize the moment with it, commission a new cover image, and get it out there with whatever promotion you can do. The Society of Authors would also advise about rights (and if you aren't a member, you might think about it!) Only you know what's best for you, but it seems to me that Maritsa would be an incredibly worthwhile project whose time has possibly come! Good luck with whatever you eventually decide.
julia jones said…
Endorse all that Catherine said - when you have the energy. I think that selling children's books, even YA, on Kindle is tough. I do much better with mine in print than in e. Maritsa could be quite different - sounds ideal for the women's reading market and that's an established kindle reading scheme (that's not mean to sound reductive btw).
Enid Richemont said…
Catherine - I value what you said so much that I've printed it out for myself, + Julia's comment too.
The truth is that I haven't published anything as an ebook since David died, because he did it so expertly and I haven't a clue (and that in spite of me downloading at least two DIY manuals!)
I'm also nervous, as are we all, about piracy, which is why I've held back on the books I've always felt should be going places, and there have been murmurings of film deals on THE TIME TREE and MARITSA.
Catherine (or Julia) - if ever you fancy a trip to London (V&A?? Design Museum etc etc)there's a spare bed here in exchange for some sympathic help.
I'm glad to be of help, Enid - but I can't see me coming to London any time soon, sadly. Too many commitments here. It is a big hurdle to get over, doing it yourself, I know. I still get butterflies every time I hit that 'publish now' button and it can be fiddly and time consuming. Which is why I wonder if you couldn't maybe find a younger family member to help. They tend to be less nervous of doing things online, probably because they know right from the start that you can't break anything by playing about with it! It tends to be an 'ongoing' thing and you have to keep pushing away at it, doing the odd tweak, plus odds and ends of promotion. I often do this late at night, sitting with a laptop and a cup of tea and the television on as well! Piracy is a bit of an issue for all of us, but I don't really think at the moment that you can count pirated books as lost sales. But if that's a worry, then you could go with Create Space and get a paper copy out instead. Mind you, I should do the same with The Curiosity Cabinet and I can't even get my own act together to figure out the techie aspects of it. Oh dear.

Popular posts

A Few Discreet Words About Caesar's Penis--Reb MacRath

A writer's guide to Christmas newsletters - Roz Morris

Margery Allingham and ... knitting? Casting on a summer’s mystery -- by Julia Jones

Irresistably Drawn to the Faustian Pact: Griselda Heppel Channels her Inner Witch for World Book Day 2024.

Got Some Book Tokens? -- by Susan Price